Can sleep problems predict your pain?

There are plenty of immediate consequences from sleepless nights, especially for young adults, whose academics and health are on the line. A recent study published in the journal PAIN is now suggesting a new one for the age group that won't affect them until later in life. Researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that the presence of sleep problems in young adults could indicate a future onset or worsening severity of chronic pain.

In a study of 1,750 young adults aged 19-22, the researchers looked at the "bidirectional" association between sleep problems and different types of pain, including musculoskeletal, head and abdominal pain. The researchers, led by Dr. Irma J. Bonvanie, also factored how these results differed between genders in addition to considering the extra effects of anxiety, depression, fatigue and physical activity.

After initial assessments, researchers followed up with the participants three years later. At that stage in the study, they found that patients with sleep problems were more likely to have severe chronic pain, with 38 percent of the young adults with sleep issues developing some type of chronic pain, compared to the 14 percent without initial sleep problems.

They also found that this relationship was more prevalent in women than men. Fatigue was the only extra factor that made these results more likely, though the difference was modest.

With these findings, the researchers conclude that there is a significant relationship between sleep and chronic pain. They say that detecting and targeting sleep problems could be another way to address chronic pain, particularly for female young adults who are more likely to be affected by this factor.

If you're experiencing chronic back pain, possibly from past sleep problems, you should schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.